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Don't be fooled: Supplements are additives to fill nutritional gaps

Don't waste your money of fat loss pills. Drink a cup of coffee and you'll get same result. Spend the money on something long term, like learning how to cook and exercise for a healthy lifestyle.

One of the most common questions I get is "what do you think about (insert brand) supplement?"

From protein shakes to fat loss pills, there are several different kinds of supplements. So, what's good and what isn't? It all comes down to the core of the question.

One thing to remember with supplements is there's very little oversight in the industry. It's so massive that the FDA could never keep up with the never-ending line of supplements. So, the FDA uses a knee-jerk reaction method to control this industry. If they receive a complaint about a particular supplement, they investigate it. This process can take months, if not years. To make it worse, there is a lot of politics behind this process.

There's a list of ingredients that are and are not allowed in supplements, as well as production standards in which they are held. Quality has always been an issue with supplements.

Cost benefit

Sure, there are supplements that might do what they advertise, but at what cost? The one unforeseen cost is how long do you have to take a supplement to achieve and maintain the desired result. I put fat-burning pills in this category. Let's say you take a fat-loss supplement for three months that costs you $100 a month. What happens when you go off the pills, do you gain the weight back? Can you justify taking the pills for the rest of your life? A whole year? Probably not.

Most fat loss pills on the market are stimulants. They contain caffeine that is the equivalent of a couple cups of coffee. There's a lot of evidence that supports caffeine as thermogenic, which is something that increases metabolism and causes your body to burn more calories. This effect isn't very efficient.

Your body adapts to the caffeine, and it requires more to get the same result. Taking more caffeine is not better, nor is it good for you.

Don't waste your money on fat-loss pills. Drink a cup of coffee, and you'll get same result. Spend the money on something long-term, like learning how to cook and exercise for a healthy lifestyle.

Muscle gainers

Men and women alike can fall victim to muscle gainers. There are a lot of products that claim, if you take them, they will increase your testosterone, give you rock-hard muscle or make you look ripped. Avoid the pitch. The only way to gain those results is to eat a lot, eat clean and work out hard. You aren't going to get "ripped" without working your butt off in the gym.

The mark-up

One of the reasons why the supplement industry is so popular is because of the massive amount of money that can be made. Producing supplements costs very little. These same supplements are sold for much, much more than it cost to make them. Retailers are able to mark up these supplements greatly and profit enormously. You can't out-supplement bad diet and exercise habits

The good supplements

What is good and what isn't? I tell my clients that there are three supplements that I agree with: multi-vitamins, omega-3/6s and protein supplements. That's it.

Supplements are just that, a supplement, an additive to your diet to fill the gaps, which are in protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

At the end of the day, I can preach to you all I want to try to convince you that there are a lot of junk supplements out there. The problem is: in just a short period of time, a supplement ad can convince you otherwise.

Bu, be aware of this. Remember, the only way to get results is to eat right and do the work.

Joe has been a professional trainer for more than 10 years. Read his blog at